Genesis 20:10-11 – And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing?” Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’”
Genesis is an incredible case study of family systems – marriage, parenting, how to deal with your siblings, in laws, and outlaws. It’s all in this incredible first book of the Bible.
Throughout our study of Genesis so far, we’ve seen several instances of passive men who didn’t take action and allowed their wives and families to be hurt, oftentimes triggering issues that would go on to affect generations. A few examples include people like our first father Adam, Noah, Lot, even Abraham, who is mentioned 12 times in Hebrews 11, the great chapter on faith. It doesn’t seem from some of these stories that these men showed much faith at all.
For example, in Genesis 3, sin entered the world because Adam didn’t protect his wife Eve from the serpent, which was the Enemy in snake-like form. When Satan approached Eve and deceived her, Adam stood by and did nothing and, because of his passivity, he and his wife were kicked out of the Garden of Eden.
In cowardly fashion, Adam says, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:12) It’s curious that just a few verses earlier (3:9), God first calls to the man, Adam, even though Eve was the one who ate the forbidden fruit. This goes to show that God calls men to lead and protect their families and, even if the man doesn’t explicitly sin, he’s held ultimately responsible for the actions of his entire family.
Several generations later, Noah preaches for 120 years about the impending flood and not a single soul turns their heart towards his God. The flannelgraph version of the Noah story often speaks of Noah as the good guy, the hero. In fact, the first thing he does upon leaving the Ark is worships God with burnt offerings (Gen. 8:20). But, just one chapter later, Noah plants a vineyard, gets passive by not keeping himself sober, and passes out naked in his tent like a redneck camping trip. Because of the way this entire ordeal takes place, his grandson Canaan’s line is ultimately cursed (9:25).
A few chapters later, we start reading the story of Abram (later renamed Abraham) and his nephew, Lot. Lot lives up to his name as a lot of drama. He starts by riding Abraham’s coattails out of their homeland and gets the overflow of God’s blessings to Abraham and his family. Then, when he and Abraham part ways, he becomes a prisoner of war, has to be rescued by Abraham, and then moves his family into Sodom, which ends up being destroyed by God with flaming road tar because of the evil and wickedness that takes place there. He tries to give his daughters up to an angry mob, fights with assumedly Jesus and two angels about having to leave Sodom prior to destruction, then gets both of his daughters pregnant, all due to his inability and unwillingness to lead his family.
Even the “righteous” Abraham messes up big time. We read of two different times throughout Genesis (Gen. 12,20) where, because Abraham would rather his wife suffer than he suffers, he tries to give Sarah away to Pharaoh in Egypt and Abimelech in Gerar. Both times, he took his family to a place where God did not call them to and his passivity, if his plans had been successful, would’ve made it seemingly impossible for his promised son Isaac, through whom would come Jesus, to be born to him and Sarah.
As we see over and over again, the moral of the story is that God is victorious and that no one is righteous outside of Jesus’ work in their lives. If it were up to humankind, our world would be completely destroyed by the effects of sin. But, because of the righteousness and grace of Jesus, we’re able to follow in His footsteps, lead our families well, and affect generations of our families for good. As Revelation 19:11-21 promises, King Jesus will return as an active, victorious warrior with a “sharp sword with which to strike down the nations” (19:15).
Men, how can you lead your families actively and not fall into passive traits of your forefathers? Women, how can you encourage your husbands to lead your family and take action when necessary?
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